I know a lot of men and women who have rode their gloriously selfish, irresponsible years all the way into their thirties (and for many men in LA: forties) – later than any generation in the history of the planet – and so the idea to them of having kids now sounds scarier than ever. They’ve had too much time to think about it. They’ve heard the horror stories – that their life ends when their child’s begins. And they like their life just fine the way it is. Eight hours sleep, coming home late without so much as a houseplant to worry about, disposable income, uncovered wall sockets, why change a good thing?
If it ain’t broke, don’t have kids. Because kids sure as hell will.
The Childless and Fancy Free have built such a wall of what psychologists call “anticipatory anxiety,” that if it were up to them, the human race would stop procreating because it just sounds too darn tough. Morning sickness, birthing pains, terrible twos, teenage years, college tuition? No thank you.
We’ve got a new form of Freedom Fighters on our hands. Generation Me. To them, the only thing Pedialyte is good for is as a little known hang-over cure.
And I’ve got to admit, my own nesting urges have been slow to come in. I think they’re on back-order in China somewhere. I’ve been trying to kick start them – doing ovary exercises at night – there must be some latent maternal instinct in there somewhere. And sometimes, like while sitting on a gondola in Montana, when I see these stinking adorable little ones zooming down the mountain, three feet tall, covered in padding, I can feel a little puttering inside. “Aw, wouldn’t it be cute if…” That’s where it starts, of course.
But then I finish the sentence and think about 3am, 5am, 7am feedings, paired with a stalled career, baby weight, permanent ponytail, vanishing sex life and worrying every night from the moment you find out you’re pregnant ‘til the day you die that your child is okay, healthy, happy. And I start wondering why anyone brings this upon themselves?
It’s a lot like going up to the top of Victoria Falls bridge in Zambia to bungee jump, staring down at the roaring waters below… and then waiting to jump. Just standing there in your gear, letting your adrenaline sour and morph into paralyzing fear. If you’d just gone for it, you would’ve been fine. Just as if you’d had kids right out of school. You didn’t know any better, then. But you’ve since had time to grow so comfortable in your permanent position as an adolescent that it’s infinitely more difficult to give it up now. There’s new meaning to “waiting too long to have kids.” You’ve psyched yourself out.
Obviously, we are not on the verge of extinction. People are making babies at this very moment. Maybe even while reading this blog. And most will probably take the leap eventually. And once you do, you’ll inevitably realize, yeah, there’s crayons all over the floor and your husband is asleep on the toilet because it’s the only place he can get any peace… but you’re a family. And from the outside looking in, you can’t understand it but there’s no greater feeling, no love more divine, than that.
And it all starts with a puttering.
…Well, let’s be honest, it really starts with a bang.